Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.
Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.
Sorry, ignore the above. That’s just a Gif of Grey after carrying this series on his back. I so wanted to love this book, I had really enjoyed the series so far, and whilst there were bits of it I liked, as a whole it felt a little meh. Please note that this review will contain spoilers for the first two books in the series.
After reading the last chapter of A Heart so Fierce and Broken I was prepared for this book to start with all the angst! Lillith was back and tormenting Rhen, Syhl Shallow had given Emberfall a timeline for war and Rhen and Grey realised they were brothers and were now on opposite sides of a war. Instead it started off an awful lot slower than I expected & rushed us through to a seemingly incomplete ending.
In case you didn’t guess from the above Grey was by far my favourite character in the series, he easily had the most character growth, went through the worst hardship and rose above it all to become the kind of King Emberfall deserved. The problem? I feel like the author intended this to be Harper and Rhen’s series, but by making the second book focus solely on Grey and Lia Mara she gave us side characters that outshone our MC’s. And it wasn’t only Grey and Lia Mara, who you could and should class as MC’s but Tycho, Iisak, Noah and Jake. Every single one of these characters shone more than Harper and Rhen, no matter how little page time they had.
Rhen in this book came across as the biggest whiny bitch. I know there will be people who side with him based on his torture all those years for Lillith, and yes that was terrible but man, learn from your mistakes. We get flashbacks to the Rhen pre torture and I’m not sure if these were supposed to cement our love for him, but it just made me realise that he’s always acted like a toddler throwing a tantrum and my dislike for him grew. His behaviour in this book, especially towards Harper, was controlling and overly aggressive, especially considering she chose to stay with him instead of leaving with Grey and her brother (what is it with all these toxic relationships in YA novels!?!). Harper becomes a shadow of her former self. There are a few moments where her strength and resilience show through, but as a whole she pandered to Rhen far too much for my liking.
The pacing of this book was off big time. The author spent far too much of the book building up to the event, that was then unsurprisingly rushed and seemed a little too easy because of that. I also feel that because I just couldn’t find myself to care about Rhen, or his story line, that his parts of the book seriously dragged, and I found myself skim reading his chapters more often than not, eager to get back to a character who doesn’t whine/feel sorry for themselves so often. If I hadn’t known this was the final book, I would have assumed we would be getting another instalment. We are left with a whole host of unanswered questions, mainly relating to Grey, Lia Mara and Syhl Shallow. Even the Rhen/Harper part wasn’t tied up as nicely as I would have wanted.
I did enjoy the overall plot, with Emberfall facing battle on more than one front the author really had the chance to make Rhen become the leader we all wanted him to be and for Harper to show the strength she blew me away with in the first book. Unfortunately that simply didn’t happen. I almost felt like the author wanted Rhen to be redeemable, but had somehow written herself into a corner that she spent the entirety of the book trying to get out of. Harper became an almost plot device to try and convince us as the reader that Rhen wasn’t as bad as we thought, and this really showed in her lack of growth as a character.
A lot of my review is showing the disparity between Rhen and Grey, but that was how the book felt for me. We see the differences not only in how they treat the people ‘below’ them, but also in their romantic relationships. Grey and Lia Mara were by far the *swoon* relationship for me. He treats her as an equal, never questioning her decisions in public, supporting her as Queen. Rhen on the other hand spends most of the book trying to ensure Harper doesn’t leave the castle, lying to her and making her feel like a prop. I have been a Grey fan since book one, but seeing Rhen’s behaviour in this book made certain that I was right in thinking Harper made the wrong decision and should have run away with Grey in book two.
I rated this book 3 stars and I feel that’s a fair assessment. I know my review has maybe been slightly more towards the negative, but after reading the previous two books and getting invested in these characters stories I do feel let down. The story itself was well written, and I am a huge fan of the authors writing style, but there was just so much of this book that let itself, and the rest of the series down.